One of the most absurd aspects of the Marxist and communist mentality is the militant unwillingness to recognise that the Soviet Union practised its own form of imperialism, and that there is no special reason to imagine that powerful communist states – if they existed – would avoid imperialist behaviour, given that, no matter whether a state is communist or capitalist, it will almost inevitably be drawn onto the world stage to protect its interests and access to resources and markets.
(Another issue, as I have argued here, is that a communist state engaged in mass industrialisation, under current technological constraints, would also inevitably produce huge greenhouse gas emissions, just like a capitalist state, but I digress.)
To return to my main point, take the history of the Soviet Union: the Soviet Union was simply the successor state of the Russian empire, a European state whose whole history was one of imperial and colonial expansion from its centres in the West into central and east Asia.
When the Bolsheviks came to power, they reconquered most of this empire in the Caucasus, central Asia and east Asia, and in the process brought millions of non-Western people under authoritarian communist rule and maintained the colonialist Russian ethnic minority presence in these regions. Their history of dealing with their non-Western subjects was just as brutal as their treatment of everybody else.
How was that not imperialism?
Very similar observations can be made about China under communist rule. Communist China inherited the multi-ethnic empire of the Manchu emperors, which was the product of centuries of imperialism, not only of the Manchu dynasty but also previous dynasties of Chinese emperors. Moreover, have Western Marxists forgotten the 1950 Chinese invasion of Tibet?
And then of course we could mention Stalin’s brutal treaty with Hitler to carve up Poland, or Stalin’s takeover of Eastern Europe, or the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.
An effective end to hard or soft imperialism – whether in a communist or capitalist state – would require either (1) an enlightened ruling elite who refused to engage in this behaviour or, more likely, (2) a majority of people in any given country to oppose imperialist behaviour and capable of enforcing its will on the government.